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Published on June 29th, 2011 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, June 29, 2011

PUBLIC PETITION SIGNATURES: If you thought your petition signature was private, think again, writes Pamela Wood for the Annapolis Capital. The Maryland State Board of Elections plans to scan thousands of pages of signatures on the petition to bring the DREAM Act to referendum in response to four Public Information Act requests.

BOOZE TAX HIKE JULY 1: Some Maryland liquor stores are bracing for the impact while others are embracing an opportunity in the days leading up to the statewide 50% increase in the alcohol sales tax on July 1st, writes Alexander Jackson of the Baltimore Business Journal.

The alcohol tax hike raises the sales tax on alcohol from 6% to 9%, writes Tyler Waldman of Patch.com.

LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING: Earl Kelly of the Annapolis Capital reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected any day now to appoint a five-member commission to hold public hearings around the state, and to draw maps for the General Assembly’s review, which will adopt the new congressional map during a special session in late October and take up the state legislative map during its regular session in January.

PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING: Opinionators at the Sun say that despite the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a provision of an Arizona law governing public financing of political campaigns, Maryland should not be deterred from embracing the concept.

GREEN SCORECARD: Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com writes that, following a campaign full of promises to help the environment, clean up the Chesapeake Bay and create green jobs, the Maryland legislature – especially the House of Delegates – disappointed environmentalists with a lackluster performance.

SEPTIC TASK FORCE: A 28-member task force will begin deliberating limiting septic systems in developments, an issue Gov. O’Malley brought up during this year’s legislative session, writes Meg Tully for the Frederick News Post.

SEPTIC REPLACEMENT: Homeowners with deteriorating septic systems on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries have a chance to replace them with high-tech ones under a Maryland program that pays for the installation, Greg Latshaw reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

SAME-SEX DIVORCE: In a column for the Annapolis Capital, Eric Hartley writes that if same-sex couples can be granted divorces in Maryland, they should also be given the right to marry.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Some chatter among gay marriage advocates says that a strategy like New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s might work in Maryland if they enlisted key African-American leaders, reports Miranda Spivack for the Post.

The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz blogs that Maryland supporters of same-sex marriage say they are studying the text of New York’s new law as they gear up for another fight next year.

TEEN DRIVING: The editorial board for the Capital writes that the drop in teen driving deaths is testament to the state’s toughening of laws governing licensing.

GRASMICK’S LAST DAYS: Liz Bowie of the Sun profiles Nancy Grasmick, who retires this week after two decades as state superintendent of schools, her blond puffy hair and piercing blue eyes the most recognizable face of education in Maryland.

A reception for more than 700 people is planned tonight to honor Grasmick, the nation’s longest-serving appointed state schools chief, according to an AP report at WMAR-TV.

CHOOSING JOBS: Writing in the Frederick News Post, columnist Marta Mossburg says that Maryland legislators have a choice. They can continue to enact policies that make us more like tax-heavy and regulation-stifling California, or they can make it easier to create jobs and attract people.

BUILDERS SUE EPA: A lawsuit filed this week by a national home-builders group accuses the Environmental Protection Agency of overstepping its legal authority and relying on flawed computer modeling in ordering Maryland and the six other bay watershed jurisdictions to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution by at least 20% over the next 14 years, according to a story in the Sun.

CARDIN FUND-RAISING: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin is getting some fund-raising help for his re-election bid from both Gov. O’Malley and Cardin’s wife, Myrna. Both have sent emails out urging recipients to open up their wallets, blogs Ben Pershing for the Post.

DIVERSITY IN MARYLAND: Detailed racial breakdowns from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that Prince George’s County is the most racially diverse jurisdiction in Maryland, with Baltimore City ranking second, reports G. Scott Thomas of the BBJ.

PRINCE GEORGE’S ANXIETY: During five hours of what should have been a meeting about routine license and regulation reviews, the Prince George’s liquor board yesterday touched on nearly every anxiety coursing through this embattled county of 900,000 residents, reports Miranda Spivack for the Post.

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